Cherokee Nation Feeding Program

Cherokee Nation Summer Feeding Program staff serve students lunch at the Sequoyah Schools cafeteria. From left are: Cody Alfred, Michael Melson, Macy Brown, and Aliyah Freeman.

The Cherokee Nation’s Summer Feeding Program kicked on May 22 to help provide kids healthy meals through the end of June.

Monday through Thursday, breakfast is served from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., followed by lunch from 11:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m. Meals are served out of the cafeteria at Sequoyah Schools and must be eaten inside the building.

“[The program] is running from May 22 to June 30 and we serve any school-age kid up to 18 years of age,” said Randy Bighorse, food service supervisor.

Meals are free for kids. Adults can dine for $2.60 for breakfast and $5 for lunch.

“We just want to ensure that they have nutritious hot meal [for] breakfast and lunch,” said Bighorse. “We want all our children fed, and I think it’s very good program for students.”

Sequoyah student Aliyah Freeman stopped by for lunch Monday afternoon and said she liked the food she was served. Chicken nuggets were part of the meal, which Bighorse said are all well-balanced, nutritious, and a good switch for the fast food kids might otherwise be eating over the summer.

“The kids like chicken nuggets, so it’s kind of a healthier alternative to McDonald’s. Ours are not fried, they’re baked,” he said.

Only about 10 kids had breakfast that first day, but Bighorse hopes for attendance to pick up as the days go on.

“I’m sure [since it was the] kids’ first day out of school, they wanted to sleep in, but hopefully, we’ll get more and more,” he said. “We’re prepared for at least up to 200. If we have to, we’ll serve more.”

Bighorse sees a big need in the area for this program.

“A lot of kids we’ve seen come from single-parent homes and they might just grab McDonald’s or some fast food. We want to give them fresh fruits, vegetables, and alternatives to fried foods [that are] low sodium and low sugar. We just try to make sure the meals are healthy and nutritious,” he said.

According to Administrative Assistant Deena Johnson, who’s been in the position going on 35 years, the program has been around for quite a while.

“Over 15 years, maybe even longer than that,” said Johnson.

Johnson said it’s a good program.

“I’m glad the kids come up here to get a meal,” she said.

Check it out

Meals are served in the cafeteria at Sequoyah Schools at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah.

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